thumbnail of Dimensions of a new age; New advances in space research
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
This is dead mansions all the way. From the Radio-TV University. We are all of us newly arrived in the age of space and we have come so quickly swirling about us are powerful influences likely to have upon our lives the most prodigiously impact known to mankind in the last 500 years. Yet we can barely grasp the magnitude of these social forces. We can only guess at their meaning. What does it signify for us to live in a world of such suddenly extended proportions toward the answer. Radio television. The University of Texas has prepared this recorded radio series produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in
cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We present dimensions of a new age. And now here is our moderator Roderick Meyer. Today we are concerned with the most recent developments in an age already distinguished by its speed of change in the comments of Major General John Bima DeRose a panel of research specialists from the University of Texas and Dr. Venter found Brown. We find clues to the new advances in space research for an intimation of the scope and direction of space age research. We turn to the remarks of Major General John Beeman DeRose former chief of the United States Army Ordnance Missile Command Redstone Arsenal Alabama research is a self generating self multiplying phenomenon. Each new discovery not only builds the structure vertically. But like the amputated head of the Hydra opens up other problems demanding attention and providing channels for still more advances and more discoveries.
Each new discovery challenges the applied scientist and the engineer to devise the means by which to utilize it for new products new consumer goods new elements of the standard of living. One can never predict in the absolute sense the direction of development. The nature of the possible end product or the magnitude of the industry that may grow out of it. Practically all of the components of our present high standard of living are the results of research and development over the past century. Every one of our modern conveniences derives from some kind of scientific investigation which was accomplished without regard to practical application. And simply because of some one man's desire to know the why. Of the universe around him. Because two researchers were curious about the source of the sun's heat we now have thermal nuclear energy for good or for bad. The tenor of science has changed in this century. It has retreated to a large extent into the
interior portions of the atom and the molecule. It can no longer be felt seen and touched. The instrumentation required for its pursuit has become complex and expensive. One Earth satellite. As an illustration may represent a total investment of five million dollars or more. No longer can science be considered a one man show. It must be pursued collectively by groups or teams of specialists in many disciplines. Almost any investigative problem demands a combination and coordination of several of these complex research elements highly trained and expert human beings. We have begun to explore space by sending highly complex and extremely sensitive instruments far above the earth's surface to the moon and beyond in order to sense measure record and report the phenomena they encounter. All of this data has been immensely rewarding to the scientific community. But it is preliminary to that day when man himself Anders
this new environment. No matter how cunningly they are contrived or how efficiently they carry out their tasks instruments cannot match the performance of the finest and most useful of all investigative devices. The mind of man to answer the pyramiding questions posed by the age of space many minds must go questing down many special pathways reflecting the infinite variety of contemporary research. Is this panel of research specialists from the University of Texas Dr MJ Thompson professor of aerospace engineering and associate director of the Defense Research Laboratory. Dr. Lynn Brown professor of psychology and director of the psychology section of the radio Biological Laboratory a joint project of the University of Texas and the United States Air Force. We have also Professor Arthur convince professor of physics and director of the military physics research laboratory and Dr. Archie straitened professor of electrical engineering and director of the Electrical
Engineering Research Laboratory. And no here is our moderator and second Thompson professor Jay Neal's Thompson director of the bell Coney's Research Center. It is me a great deal of pleasure to have these gentlemen with us today they are working in research laboratories and are on the faculty working with students and of course our tied with important research that's tied with space problems. Dr. streight What do you mean by space communication. Professor Thompson strictly speaking of phase communication is concerned with getting instructions to man my satellites are getting information from them that will tell us the things that they're measuring or tell us where they are in a more general sense or the space communication that permits us to get information concerning their areas so it's just a last year logic to
various planets and some radio stars just general areas of London really because of radio astronomy. Good Dr. Brown. You've had a close contact with a space traveler. Who is this. Who is Sam. Sam was rhesus monkey born at the radio Biological Laboratory of the university and was the first primate. And the mercury project or the man in space project from Wallops Island began your flight taking place on December the 4th one thousand and fifty nine. And you had another space trial Miss Folliard from the same launching site on January the 21st 1960 both on a move or and then return to the laboratory and both are in excellent condition from a physical point of view.
Good we're going to ask you some more about Sam and miss Sam later. A lot of it you for years of farm research on gun fire control systems. How did you become involved with space. Well the problem that we have been involved in for the past 17 years have been the problems of air to air combat and as. Combat vehicles went to higher and higher out tools it was just a natural move to go into the extreme altitude which we refer to as space 100 200 thousand miles above the surface of the earth. Good good we can understand this. Mark Thompson your research for over 30 years has been on airplane travel primarily airplanes and the atmosphere. Now of course the atmosphere is pretty small as compared to space. Have you gotten involved with space.
Well this is very true the if you compare the atmosphere with some of the dimensions that we talk about in outer space it's like the skin on an orange or maybe even peeling on an apple. I think the situation has one that is evolved here it's an evolutionary process rather than a revolution in that airplanes as we've attempted to improve them have flown higher and faster because they had less resistance with a lower density. At the same time however we had to face the problem of what to do with our propulsion systems which in their early days depended on atmospheric oxygen to maintain combustion. And this problem was solved with a rocket motor and it's this that is why this then into outer space. I think with the brief introduction of our panel we have some idea of the areas in which they have been involved. I'd like
to of course propose some more questions and pursue this a little deeper in this space age of course. We have a lot of problems and the advancements are going to be rather significant to the public dock blocking vets. What are some of the factors affecting motion of vehicles and space. Well there are two rather important ones one is the resistance of the atmosphere to the motion of the body through space. The other is the Earth's gravitational field at lower altitude that is altitude close to the surface of the earth from Mile 10 miles up the atmospheric resistance is a very important one. At this altitude they at these altitude the gravitational field can be considered more or less constant. We do not have to worry about variation in the gravitational field
as we go to higher and higher altitude. The air resistance becomes less less important. On the other hand the variation in the gravitational field because of variation in distances from the center of the earth becomes important. And along with this the fact that the earth is not a spherical body means that we do not have spherical symmetry as far as the Earth's gravitational field and variations exist. For example if the gravitational field varied as much as one millionth that of which we have the earth's surface and body were to travel for a thousand seconds we had missed its location by something like of 500 feet. If we didn't take into consideration this exceedingly small variation in the gravitational field so this becomes important.
Is this some of the work that you're doing. Yes I was concerned with these things. They were sayings in the laboratory. I asked not a question as respect. Are we getting this back to the students and the university. Yes to a certain extent I recall very definitely in a junior course mechanics a few days after Sputnik went off. We had been giving the students the equations of orbital motion. You know a number of different courses at one time or another and it was very difficult to arouse in the interest of the students on these things. But the. Few weeks after Sputnik went off I switched my attack on what I was doing into the orbital problem good and there was a lot of interest that we have value then for these research programs are being conducted insofar as I think it will.
Dr. Brown you mention ALL ago that something about Sam. Why are we sending individuals are primates like salmon to space. We hope to find out the capability of the primate to sustain a response system which he has learned in the laboratory on the varying conditions of stress and maintaining this response system and on space travel our space exploration. If the monkey the rhesus monkey can learn a problem under laboratory conditions and then maintain a reliable response at the time of the blast all of our doing during zero gravity periods and re-entry periods then we assume possibly that the future human
space travelers can likewise maintain a response system which they have learned on earth with reference to handling equipment and gadgetry during flight. So the rhesus monkey and Sam and miss Sam in particular possibly gave us some information on this subject and from that we hope to learn something about future space travel of our astronauts. Tell us about radio astronomy and Dr Stritmatter or radio astronomy related the manned flight in space and a good many of what you need because if we can get information concerning the moon and someday the astronauts go there. The information we get about one method or another may actually help them and their landing. A good many people think that the moon is covered with a liar very fine dust is just too deep
and they landed in the middle of that flight my. And disaster. So the more we learn about the moon surface through radio mains the better it will be prepared to travel there. They're also studying the radio stars in space with you at a good deal to astronomy because they get radio signals of a random nature from space is that there is no visible star. The explanation is not entirely clear but stop. This comes from big globs of gas floating in space rather than some visual object. I was wondering Dr. Thompson case thought he would have to say about the comforts of a gun and they provided him space flight to straighten this is an area in which we are very directly concerned.
As I mentioned earlier the thinness of the atmosphere sometimes makes people think that this has become a rather unimportant problem. But I think we have to realize that practically all of our vehicles will at least be launched through the atmosphere if they originate on the earth. And and certainly in most cases we expect them to come back especially if they're going to carry any human passengers. But as we think to be as good as a science fiction books show them. Well this is this is the question that I think is probably the one of the most vital ones is the matter of what we call aerodynamic heating. And this is an area we're doing some research on right now in which we're attempting to explore the relationship between the resistance to the skin frictional effects on the surface of a vehicle and the amount of heat that is generated through the dissipation of that frictional energy
under certain conditions you can get some very terrific temperatures. We talk about mach numbers. Mark was an Austrian ballistics expert of the about the turn of the century and the Mach number is simply the ratio of flight speed to the speed of sound. When you get in outer space and there is no air then just what the speed of sound is becomes a little obscured. By this tree and tree problem also out of fact on radio communication and you make create a good deal of vine ization around the re-entry vehicle and shut off communication temporarily from the earth which might result and have a Geisha no problem. As this is this we realize what I wanted to point out was that at a Mach number of 10 for example the temperature rise can be of the order of about 21 times the temperature of the undisturbed air.
This would be the value that one might approach on the skin of a vehicle and this is the sort of problem we run into. We find with meteorites they usually melt before they get back to the earth. We want a vehicle that won't completely melt and also will be cooled or will dissipate the heat in some fashion. Whatever equipment is inside or whatever passengers are there can survive via the flight. Dr. Brown what's the effect of weightlessness on the marquee or on an astronaut an hour test on weightlessness before the lights of Sam and miss Sam. We were able to attain a period of 41 seconds of continuous weightlessness. Now the use of an F 94 jet aircraft during this period the monkey responded quite well. The response rate was about the same
as under laboratory conditions. And likewise the we are rather well satisfied with the response of the animals or they might get from Wallops Island Virginia. Good they are able to control their behavior sufficiently well to respond to the equipment that they have been trained to respond to in the laboratory. There you have a different problem entirely under heavy stress. The animal becomes extremely excited initially under heavy G but can through training respond up to and including 20 g. I think this would be a good place to ask Dr Larkin vets a question from the physics standpoint. You've been using the word g. Can you tell us why g as a usual
understanding of G as the excess acceleration which a really fallen body would have at the Earth's surface which is about 32 feet per second squared in the 2G would be sixty four feet per second squared. 20 G would be six hundred forty feet per second squared. That's an important factor and a blast off and the like for use in reentry. Don't worry when the parachute opened there is a tremendous Gee build up. Are you a fraction of a second. This also would mean that a body that is subjected to 20 g's would have a force acting on it which would be 20 times as large as the body's normal weight. Let's just pose some structural problems and design of the it goes to
an unknown fountain. Yes it certainly does. The combination of these very high loads and the high temperatures makes the problem exceedingly difficult because as our colleague Neal's Thompson here can tell us the structural materials that we're accustomed to using the steels and so forth that ordinary temperatures very rapidly lose their strength when you try to use them at elevated temperatures. Yes that's right. We've been working with some systems to help design for this landing problem. This acceleration and deceleration that comes about in vehicles and the landing of these vehicles on surfaces. We have to absorb these energies in some fashion or other and we on the structural mechanics Research Laboratory are designing systems now that will be used to absorb energies of these vehicles as they land on the earth and on the moon if you please.
I may pose another question at this time to Dr. straitened in the area of radio astronomy. What value is this of course in so far as space travel. Well that will have to be assured we're going to have communication with space vehicles both for guidance information purposes and also to return information to the earth. But in addition to that we're supplementing a great deal to learn with. There are no type of optical astronomy by radio astronomy and some of the things that are not available by radios Bonamy standard radio straw on the mains. Thank you very much gentlemen we appreciate your taking time out from your activities to visit with us today and talk about this important subject of the never ending probings and seeking was made imperative by the momentum of this dynamic gauge.
Dr. Verner von Brown technical director of the Ballistic Missile agency for our National Aeronautics and Space Administration has this to say. Others of us close to our national space effort experience annoying concern about two aspects of it. One is the matter of urgency. Are we moving fast enough. The other. Relates to the real scope of the coming this challenge do our people realize that actually much more is involved than the technical competition between rocket development teams. I cannot give you a definitive answer to the first question because it inevitably begs another fast enough for what. For the nation's best interest or soley to outdo the Russians I suggest
that our interests would best be served if you carry on our species exploration effort in the same purpose. As has been clearly stated by President Eisenhower namely to serve mankind by providing new knowledge at the same time. We must be adequately prepared to defend the nation in space. If others attempt to exploit it for aggressive purposes and I think they can. I think in these terms we must ask ourselves bluntly Are we running as fast as we should. I believe we must proceed with a very real sense of urgency. And without stopping to look over our shoulder the other fellow. If we do that we shall most certainly lose the race. This raises still another aspect that may be overlooked in our enthusiasm
to welcome the all known to translate scientific fiction into reality. The exploration of space will not be completed in a single year or a decade or even several decades. Our position in rocketry today is akin to that of Christopher Columbus as he embarked upon his historic voyage his tiny ships were free and unreliable and so are rockets. His invention made available new kinds of energy to men SEALs were replaced by steam engines than by propeller planes and by jet transports and now by nuclear powered vessels to advance the state of the rocket ops. We must continue to commit a substantial part of our scientific and technical manpower and the necessary resources in an ever expanding program. We must develop new sources of
energy new substances and devices to control and harness them. We stand at the beginning of a wide endless highway reaching out to the stars and beyond. If we go far but for that purpose with firm determination and enjoying the full support of our people. All right I was told the total challenge we cannot fail. You have heard some of our nation's leading participants in the activities of the space age and their comments on new advances in space research. Our thanks to Major General John Beamer Douras former chief of the United States Army ordinance Missile Command. To the panel of research specialists from the University of Texas and their moderator Professor James Thompson director of the balconies Research Center in Austin. And to Dr. Verner von Brown technical director of the Ballistic Missile Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is program 10 in a series devoted to increased
public understanding of the dimensions of a new age. Are there elements in man's new relation to the universe calculated to alter his values and his views. We invite you to listen at the same time next week when Dr. Verner von Braun the technical director of the Ballistic Missile Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr vice president of Union Theological Seminary considers such impact on our religious and philosophical outlook. In our final program philosophy and space. These programs were produced and directed by David Wright Meyer who serves as moderator. Coordinator and writer Mary de Benjamin. The series was under the supervision of Robert F. Fink. Gemara speaker.
Dimensions of a new age
New advances in space research
Producing Organization
University of Texas
KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-cc0tvg9t).
This program focuses on the latest advances in space research during the space age.
This series explores the new developments and challenges that have emerged in the wake of the "space age" that occurred in the mid-20th century.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Rightmyer, Roderick D.
Host: Grauer, Ben
Moderator: Thompson, J. Neils
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Von Braun, Wernher, 1912-1977
Speaker: Medaris, John B. (John Bruce), 1902-1990
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-56-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:09
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Dimensions of a new age; New advances in space research,” 1960-11-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 13, 2021,
MLA: “Dimensions of a new age; New advances in space research.” 1960-11-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 13, 2021. <>.
APA: Dimensions of a new age; New advances in space research. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from